It’s always best practice to perform seasonal maintenance on your HVAC system to keep it in tip-top shape and make sure it’s ready to tackle the months ahead. But, with all of us spending more time inside than usual, it has never been more important to take good care of our home systems. They are working harder than ever to keep us comfortable, so it’s only fair that we reciprocate by caring for them too!
Use the following checklist to ensure your heating and cooling systems are ready for the heat as summer rolls in. These tips can help keep your home — and its inhabitants — happy and healthy all season long!
1. Change your air filters
When it comes to your HVAC system, one of the simplest and most essential tips is to change the filters regularly. Fresh filters mean better air quality for you and less work for your system. Systems and filters come in many shapes, sizes and varieties, so make sure you know exactly which kind of filter your system requires as well as how often it should be swapped out.
A good rule of thumb for remembering to change your filter is to pair the activity with something else you do on a regular basis. For instance, if your filter should be changed each month, get into the habit of changing it on the same day you do something else that takes place monthly, such as paying your rent or testing your smoke alarms. You can also always set up reminders ahead of time on your phone or in your planner.
2. Clear the area around your outdoor unit
It’s easy for dirt or debris to interfere with your unit’s ability to function properly. Trim back any vegetation that may be growing too close to your unit, and clear the area of fallen branches, old leaves and anything else that could obstruct airflow or become lodged in the machine.
3. Clean your air vents
Much like checking and clearing the area around your outdoor unit, you’ll want to evaluate your air vents to ensure they are completely free of anything that could restrict airflow or compromise air quality. Open any closed vents, dust or wipe down all exposed vent surfaces and position your vents to direct air toward the desired area of the room.
4. Seal any openings around your home
It may seem like no big deal to have a tiny crack or two near your doors or windows, but air will take any opportunity it can get to seep out of your home. If the cold air from your unit is escaping through holes or cracks around your window or door frames, your system will have to work harder to compensate for that loss of air to regulate the temperature.
Using caulk to fill gaps or replacing old weather stripping that has worn down over time is fairly easy to do on your own and can make a huge difference when it comes to conserving energy and reducing your system’s workload.
5. Rotate the direction your ceiling fans run
Your ceiling fans should rotate clockwise in colder months and counterclockwise in warmer months. Clockwise rotations in winter help circulate the air without blowing it down toward you. Conversely, counterclockwise rotations during summer push air downward, keeping home inhabitants cooler while preventing warmer air from rising up too quickly and causing the air conditioner to cycle on too frequently.
Not sure how to change the direction of the blades on your fan? Turn off your fan, wait for the blades to stop rotating and check around the base for a little switch. Sliding that switch to the opposite direction should do the trick. If your ceiling fan comes with a remote control, you may also find an option there to change the fan’s rotation direction.
6. Test your system
Once you have completed all the above steps and feel that your system will be operating under optimal conditions, test it out. Try turning it even a few degrees lower that you currently need to ensure that it is equipped to handle tougher conditions for when the weather gets hotter.
A few things to pay attention to during the test:
- How much time it takes for your system to cool your home to the temperature you selected
- Any noises your unit makes
- The scent of the air your system emits
- The amount of airflow coming out of each vent
If you pick up on anything abnormal, you should call in an HVAC pro who can diagnose the issue, make recommendations and perform any necessary repairs.
7. Set your thermostat to a new base temperature
Successfully making it through the checklist to this point with no hiccups means you’re ready to adjust your thermostat’s settings to conserve as much energy as possible. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends leaving your A/C at 78°F (or as high a temperature is as comfortable) in the summer. This minimizes your energy consumption and prevents your system from having to work too hard.
It’s also important to remember that setting the thermostat to a much lower temperature does not cause your system to cool any faster. Systems cool at a constant rate, so if you set yours to a lower temperature than you need and then forget about it, you will just use up more energy than is necessary. It is better to lower your thermostat gradually as you find that you need it to be cooler.
8. Call a pro for a seasonal maintenance checkup
While all the previous tips should be fairly simple to complete on your own, nothing truly replaces the knowledge of an expert. HVAC pros are trained to notice things that the average homeowner wouldn’t, and they’ll know what to do if anything does happen to be out of the ordinary with your HVAC system or any of its components. When in doubt (or if you just like the convenience of not having to do it yourself), call in a pro.
Scheduling maintenance checks twice a year — just before winter and summer — is one of the absolute best things you can do to help ensure your systems are poised to run smoothly. Plus, if you have a home warranty, getting regular maintenance checks done will help provide proof that your system has been properly cared for if an issue does arise that requires you to place a claim for coverage. Ready to purchase a home protection plan? A Cinch home protection plan, which covers a majority of your built-in home systems, including your HVAC, and appliances you use most to help save serious time and money on repairs and replacements. Get a quote today!
We hope these tips help you and your HVAC system weather the summer heat with ease this year!